The Hogs took Royal’s post game comments to heart and shut out their final 5 opponents to finish the regular season a perfect 10-0. As Southwest Conference champions they were headed to the Cotton Bowl to take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
At that time the AP and UPI released their final polls at the end of the regular season but before the bowl games. In their final polls in 1964 both listed undefeated Alabama as #1 and Arkansas at #2.
76,000 fans jammed the Cotton Bowl on January 1, 1965 to watch Arkansas take on Bob Devaney’s Big 8 champions. Physically, the Cornhuskers were much larger than the Hogs. Arkansas’ offensive line averaged 200 pounds, while the Nebraska defensive line averaged 230.
The Razorbacks took an early 3-0 lead on a field goal by Tom McNully. Midway through the 2nd quarter Nebraska drove 69 yards to score a touchdown and put the Cornhuskers up 7-3. It was the first time Arkansas had trailed since the Tulsa game and the first points the defense had allowed since the Texas game. The first half ended that way.
The 3rd quarter was scoreless. Early in the 4th quarter Nebraska drove to the Arkansas 20 but the defense stiffened and the Hogs took over with 7 minutes to play. The Hogs offense had been shut down all day, and the dream of an undefeated season was on the line. This would be the last chance and as the offense took the field the Hog Call rang out through the stadium.
Quarterback Fred Marshall, who had been named the starter by Broyles after the 1963 season-ending victory over Texas Tech, took over. Marshall immediately fired a 12 yard pass to Jerry Lamb, then followed that with an 11 yard completion to Bobby Burnett. On a crucial 3rd down Marshall rolled right but was pressured and had to throw early to Jim Lindsay, who had not yet turned around. Lindsay heard Marshall yell, and when he turned around the ball was right in front of him. But it was perfectly thrown and Lindsay made a one-handed grab and barreled through two defenders for the first down.
Next Marshall scrambled up the middle for a 10 yard gain. He then found Lindsay all alone in the left flat for a 28 yard gain to the Cornhusker 5 yard line. Two plays later Bobby Burnett scored to put the Hogs up 10-7 but there was still 4:41 left.
The Huskers took the ensuing kickoff and drove to midfield but faced a 4th and 12 at their own 42. Defensive end Ronnie Caveness, who rarely spoke during the games, turned to defensive tackle Jim Williams and told him, “Williams, you gotta get in there.” Williams responded by charging through the offensive line and sacking the Nebraska quarterback. The Porkers ran out the clock, and they were a perfect 11-0.
Later that night the team watched as Texas beat Joe Namath and Alabama in the Orange Bowl 21-17. The Hogs were the only undefeated team left standing. While the AP and UPI had already released their final polls, the Football Writers Association of America had not and they awarded the Grantland Rice Trophy to the Razorbacks.
In the years that have followed, many Razorback fans have begun to scoff at the 1964 national championship. But the fact is that by today’s standards the 1964 team would have been undisputed national champions in any poll. In fact it was immediately after the 1964 season that the AP and UPI decided to wait until after the bowl games to release their final polls.
The Hogs had won 12 straight, a share of the national championship, and were ready to reload for the 1965 season
Next up: Razorback History-The 1965 Season Begins